I have been inspired! In May I went to a workshop at Lions Bay Elementary School put on by Janice Novakowski and I have not been able to stop thinking about it! She works for the Richmond School District as a Teacher Consultant and her primary focus is Math. Her work these days focuses on teaching math inspired by the work of Reggio Emilia.
The Reggio Emilia approach to teaching values the child as strong, capable, and resilient. Every child is believed to have an innate sense of curiosity. The fundamental principles of the Reggio Emilia approach are; children are capable of constructing their own learning, children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others, children are communicators, the environment is the third teacher, the adult is a mentor and a guide, there is an emphasis on documenting children thoughts, and it is believed that there are many ways that children show their learning and understanding. Reggio classrooms are usually very neutral and filled with objects from nature. And the learning often happens through provocations and prompts in exploration centers.
Thankfully, the classroom that I am moving into this year is already very neutral and filled with nature based materials such as; wooden counting blocks, rocks with numbers and mathematical signs on them, and pinecones, leaves, rocks, and horse chestnuts for counting and sorting.
Since I am going to be teaching the early years – most likely grade ½, these are the years it is extremely important for students to develop a strong foundation of math principles and number concepts. Therefore, I am going to take advantage of my students curiousity about the world and to problem solve and present provocations once a week (at the beginning of the week) surrounding our math big ideas. This way – especially for my English Language Learners – they can explore the materials, show what they know, and have a basis of understanding to build on for the rest of that week, the unit, and the year. Here are some examples of provocations that teachers have done following Janice’s work. Some of the information that I am going to be following to help support me in this journey of exploration are: the book ‘Visible Learners: Promoting Reggio-Inspired Approaches in All Schools’ by Mara Krechevsky, and Janice’s Pedagogical Content Knowledge documents that can be found on her webpage.
Janice Novakowski’s Blog – http://janicenovkam.typepad.com/photos/provocations/index.html